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In conversation with Ayaz Basrai

By Pragnya Rao

Nov 04, 2016

They are the custodians of cool, and the names behind some of the hippest, new restaurants in the country. Meet the siblings, Ayaz and Zameer Basrai of The Busride studio

Think of the last new restaurant you dined at and were impressed with not just the food but the décor too? Chances are it would have been designed by the duo whose roster includes the Smoke House Deli, Social, The Bombay Canteen, Pizza Express, JamJar among others. We caught up with Ayaz to share with us a few things on design, and its peripherals. Excerpts from the interview…


How did you decide on the name Busride for the studio?

We've always fantasised about a mobile studio, a place that isn't really grounded in expensive real estate, and the idea of working at the back of a bus was sort of an ideal situation when we started. It helps that our surnames are Basrai, and our forefathers were pearl traders from Basra. And we have a general predilection to select a path that leads to more confusion. So The Busride worked perfectly badly for us.


Did you always want to be a designer?

I've wanted to be various things, ranging from a park ranger to a comic book artist. I guess being an industrial designer sort of covers the range of possibilities nicely. We can still play pretend and do most things.


If not a designer, then what would you be?

I think something to do with wildlife; maybe a park ranger, or a filmmaker of some kind.


How did you guys decide to work together?

It's always complex working with family, and we've never taken it lightly. We used to freelance together for almost a year, and the experience was magical. Every decision and discussion always led into something that neither of us could have achieved alone, and our individual areas of interest all still fit under The Busride macro umbrella, so it made a lot of sense to formalise things. It's a rare thing, and one that I'm thankful about almost every day.


What's a typical day at work like?

Diverse, to say the least; some of the usual plus some travel to interesting places, lots of nice conversations across a very varied range of people. I've relocated to Goa now, to set up The Busride Lab, a whole new initiative, so days now also include swimming and lots of playtime with my one and a half year old son.


Do you have a design style? If yes, what would it be?

Thankfully we don't have a particular style. Design styles are slick sounding blinkers, at least aesthetically speaking. They are a way of saying, ‘I can only look at the world through this lens’. If we had to name what we're trying do, it'd be Maximal Trippy.


Your personal style?

Dishevelled, borderline ugly.


Five things you can't live without?

5 Books.


What are you currently working on?

We're in the process of setting up The Busride Lab in Goa, which is really exciting for us right now. The Lab is intended to be a collaborative workspace with some amazing, inspiring partners and old friends, to scratch many itches we'd forgotten we ever had. We're still framing the manifesto for the Lab, in a collaborative named The Greenhouse, one of the many amazing creations of my good friend Avinash Kumar (Basic Love of Things/ Antariksha Sanchar/ Quicksand) and his partners, Chef Gresham Fernandes (Gypsy Kitchen / Doobius Dinners), and a bunch of other supremely inspiring individuals. Although we have no idea where it's going, I can already feel it's someplace good.


Your design icon?

Buckminster Fuller. A close second would be, M P Ranjan.


A childhood memory you cherish?

My dad had built me a skateboard, but being strapped for funds at the time, he had it made on site from a plank of marine plywood, and 4 metal bed castors. It made more noise than a 747 starting up, but it was something I truly loved. I hope I can be half as committed and whacked out to my son as he was to me.


A project you wish you had designed?

The Carter Road Promenade.

Le 15 Café in Colaba Mumbai designed by The Busride.
The interiors of this restobar is inspired by the Cold War and comprises of various upcycled elements.
Mirrors, candles, 3D mapping on walls with lenticular printing define the décor of MasalaBar in Bandra.
The Taj Mahal Tea House is a welcome change from the cookie-cutter coffee chains one sees in the metros.
The Grid, Microbrewery, Bar and Kitchen in Kolkata has a chic, industrial feel to it.

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